The IRS is growing more serious about cryptocurrency tax enforcement — which means it’s important to take steps to avoid a potential audit.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll understand everything you need to know about how the audit process works (and minimize your odds of getting audited in the first place).
Will the IRS audit you for crypto? Yes. If the IRS has reason to believe that you are underreporting your crypto taxes, it is possible that they will initiate an audit or send you a warning letter about your unpaid tax liability. What is IRS Operation Hidden Treasure?
Operation Hidden Treasure is a partnership between the IRS’s Office of Financial Enforcement and Criminal Investigation Department created for the purpose of identifying underreported crypto income.
In the past few years, the IRS has invested heavily in tools to trace and prevent cryptocurrency tax fraud. The IRS has also worked with contractors like Chainalysis
and link ‘anonymous’ wallets to known investors. to trace transactions
The agency has also issued John Doe Summons to exchanges like
and Coinbase to request customer information. Kraken Why would I be selected for an IRS audit?
There are multiple reasons why you may have been selected for a cryptocurrency audit. Sometimes the answer is simply bad luck — your return may have been randomly selected through the
. IRS’s statistical formula
It is also possible that the IRS has reason to believe you are underreporting your
or that you were conducting business with another party who is also being audited. cryptocurrency taxes What are the odds of a crypto tax audit?
In general, the odds of an audit are relatively low. It was estimated that 0.63% of tax returns in 2023 were selected for an audit. However, the Inflation Reduction Act granted billions in new funding to the IRS — leading many experts to believe that more audits will be conducted in the years to come.
It’s more common for taxpayers to be subject to an informal inquiry about underreported cryptocurrency taxes than a full-blown audit. For example, many taxpayers have in the past received
from the IRS about unpaid tax liabilities. CP2000 notices Can the IRS identify my cryptocurrency transactions if I don’t report them?
While cryptocurrency transactions are pseudo-anonymous, transactions on blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum are permanent and visible to the public. In the past, the
to link blockchain transactions to known individuals. IRS has worked with contractors like Chainalysis
Additionally, major exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken already report user information to the IRS. Tax reporting requirements are only set to grow more strict. In the future, all centralized exchanges will be required to send information on capital gains and losses to users and the IRS via
. Form 1099 How does a cryptocurrency tax audit work?
How long a tax audit takes varies heavily depending on the specifics of your situation such as the complexity of your transaction history and the specific issues being discussed. There may be further rounds of questioning if the audit process reveals discrepancies in your tax filings.
Typically, auditors look at financial records including your cryptocurrency trade history, bank account statements, credit card payments, loan payments, tuition costs, and insurance payments. If your costs are significantly higher than your reported income, the IRS may see it as a sign that you are hiding income.
Audit examiners may not have a deep understanding of cryptocurrency. However, the IRS does employ a team of behind-the-scene crypto experts to review documents and help guide the audit examiner through the process.
When the audit examiner finishes the process, you will be given a letter explaining the IRS’s findings and assessing the amount you owe in taxes. You will be given 30 days to appeal the decision.
If the IRS finds evidence that you may have committed tax fraud or tax evasion, they may refer your case to the Department of Justice.
How to avoid a cryptocurrency audit
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of a tax audit. However, there are steps you can take to minimize your likelihood of being selected for one.
Accurately report your crypto earnings
Some of the crypto information that investors should report to avoid an audit include:
Your complete cryptocurrency transaction history The accounting method used to calculate capital gains ( ) FIFO, LIFO, or HIFO Any assumptions that are not represented within the data
Of course, accurately
is often easier said than done. Because crypto investors often use multiple exchanges and wallets, it can be difficult to find data on every buying and selling event. reporting crypto taxes like CoinLedger can help. The platform allows you to automatically import transactions from exchanges like Coinbase and blockchains like Ethereum. You can import all your transactions and generate an accurate tax return in minutes. Cryptocurrency tax software Explain steep rises/falls in income
A steep fall in income or a steep rise in expenses may look suspicious. Be sure to provide additional paperwork that explains such events in detail.
Double check your tax return
Remember, a simple mathematical mistake in your tax returns can increase your risk of being audited. If you have conducted a large number of cryptocurrency transactions, be sure to double check your calculations.
Don’t over-report your home deductions
If you’re running a cryptocurrency-based business such as a mining operation, you do have the option to deduct business-related expenses. However, it’s important to remember that claiming unusually large deductions in proportion to your income may draw the scrutiny of the IRS.
In addition, we recommend keeping documentation of all associated expenses of running your business in case of an audit.
What information will I need for a cryptocurrency audit?
During an audit, it’s likely that the IRS will ask you for the following information:
All blockchain addresses and wallet IDs that you own/control All crypto exchanges and wallets you are using, as well as your user IDs, email addresses, and IP addresses related to those accounts.
You’ll also need the following information on each one of your cryptocurrency transactions.
The date and time each unit of your cryptocurrency was acquired The fair market value of each cryptocurrency at the time of acquisition The date and time of each time you disposed of your cryptocurrency The fair market value of each cryptocurrency at the time of disposal, and what you’ve received in exchange for each cryptocurrency The accounting method that you used to calculate your capital gains at each disposal event How far back does a cryptocurrency audit go? , audits include all tax returns that are filed in the last three years. If the agency identifies what they call a ‘substantial error’, they may add additional years (though the IRS typically doesn't go back further than six years in these cases). According to the IRS
If no return is filed, or a fraudulent return is filed, there is no limit to how far back the IRS can audit.
Should I seek the help of a tax professional?
Many investors choose to seek the help of a tax professional that can advocate their tax positions before the IRS. If you choose to go this route, be sure the expert you work with has a strong background in cryptocurrency.
To find a relevant tax professional for your needs, check our complete list of certified
. crypto tax accountants Looking for an easy way to track your crypto taxes?
Keeping track of your cryptocurrency taxes manually can feel stressful and overwhelming. Luckily, there’s a solution.
is designed to make the process of tax filing feel as stress-free as possible. Once you integrate your wallets and exchanges, you’ll be able to file your tax return in minutes. You can even use the software to help CoinLedger . If you run into any difficulties or have any questions, our support team is ready to help. lower your crypto taxes and join the 400,000+ other crypto investors using the platform. Get started with a free account